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Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the Stoicism of Professional Wrestling

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An examination of the role of injuries, in light of recent events. Plus week 25 of the Wrestler Wrankings!

logo via Hollywood Wallace

Injuries and professional wrestling go together like bizarre symbols and Kevin Sullivan's forehead. One cannot exist without the other!

In fact, the annuls of wrestling are littered with the bodies of those who suffered a physical setback and were, unfortunately, never the same:

  • Bret "The Hitman" Hart enjoyed perhaps the finest career in the history of professional wrestling, but it took but one particularly fierce crescent kick from Goldberg to begin his decent into ill-health and retirement.
  • Another of the greatest technicians in history, Ricky Steamboat, landed awkwardly in a mid-90's WCW match, hurt his back, and was forced into immediate retirement.
  • Ultimate Warrior was cursed by the witch doctor Papa Shango, suffered severe physical and psychological consequences, and was a diminished version of his primal self from that point on.

These are but a few examples of careers ruined by sudden physical misfires. But make no mistake, an injury is not a guaranteed trip to the scrapyard. Sometimes it is even a gateway to previously untold heights!

To use a very famous example, "Stunning" Steve Austin was terminated from WCW in 1995 due to a triceps injury. While the injury robbed him of his ability to pantomime an old-timey movie camera, it didn't sap his desire to become a star.

With the temporary loss of his considerable ring prowess, Austin was exiled to Extreme Championship Wrestling where he had to pull his weight using only his words. Facing unemployment and spurred on by ECW boss Paul Heyman, Austin honed his promos to a fine point and developed a confidence and swagger the likes of which the industry has never seen.

His health eventually returned and Austin became a complete package of a superior grappling skills, a ferocious wit, and a texas sized chip on his shoulder. No longer a mere mechanic, Stone Cold Steve Austin rapidly became one of the biggest celebrities in the world and arguably, the best wrestler ever.

That brings us to more the recent examples of career disrupting injuries to Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns.

Daniel Bryan's fairytale story ended shortly after Wrestlemania 30. Injuries robbed him of a lengthy run with the WWE Championship that he worked so hard to attain and threaten his very career. Can he ever reach those heights again? Will he return as a shell of himself, if at all? Or will he train harder than ever, heal his wounds, enhance his repertoire both in the ring and on the microphone to become an all-time great of the sport? Time will tell.

Roman Reigns projects as a future champion, but he's still so far from a finished product. His incarcerated hernia and the subsequent rehab will, at minimum, delay his ascent for many months, if not years.  There's simply no telling what effect this will have on Reigns, or even what his ceiling would have been without the injury. The only thing we do know, is that Seth Rollins is breathing a bit easier now that his opponent at Night of Champions has been sidelined!

Obstacles cannot be avoided entirely. They are a fact of life.

The mass exodus of talent from WWF in the mid-90's seemed to mark the end of Vince McMahon's reign over the wrestling world. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Lex Luger, Razor Ramon, Diesel and others defected to WCW. Meanwhile, the man who was supposed to carry the WWF flag in the upcoming wrestling wars, Shawn Michaels, suffered a "career ending" injury. Mike Tyson was brought in as a potential superstar acquisition, but Steve Austin's thoughtless unprofessionalism caused "Iron Mike" to reconsider wrestling in WWF.

This series of setbacks seemed to doom Vince McMahon. Instead, all these misfortunes cleared the way for a golden generation of superstars to make their mark. Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Mankind, Undertaker, and even McMahon himself, all enjoyed the freedom created by the vacuum of star power and seized the opportunity to become true legends of wrestling.

Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns are out of action. This is a fact that cannot be altered. How will these men react to the challenge placed before them? And who will step in to fill the void? Who will use this obstacle to their advantage?

If the history of professional wrestling is any indication, we will soon find out.

***

OFFICIAL WRESTLER WRANKINGS FORMULA

ANY WIN = 2 POINTS

US OR INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE BOUT = 1 POINT

WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE BOUT = 3 POINTS

NON "BIG 4" PPV BONUS = 1.5X

SUMMERSLAM, SURVIVOR SERIES, ROYAL RUMBLE = 2X BONUS

WRESTLEMANIA = 3X BONUS

The WWE season begins on the day after WrestleMania 30 and culminates with WrestleMania 31. The wrestler who accumulates the most points over the course of the season, wins the coveted Wrankings Championship!

***

Monday Night Raw -- 9/15/14

  • Roman Reigns - 2 point (win)
  • Jack Swagger - 2 points (win)
  • Chris Jericho - 2 points (win)
  • Big Show - 2 points (win)
  • Main Event -- 9/17/14

  • Seth Rollins - 2 points (win)
  • Smackdown -- 9/19/14

  • Rusev - 2 points (win)
  • Bo Dallas - 2 points (win)
  • Adam Rose - 2 points (win)
  • Jimmy Uso - 2 points (win)
  • -----------------------------------

    Xavier-woods-vs-alexander-rusev-620x350_medium

    WRESTLER WRANKINGS, WEEK 25 *TOP TEN*

    1. RUSEV -- 70 points

    2. Sheamus -- 54.5

    3. Seth Rollins -- 44

    4. Bo Dallas -- 43.5

    5. Cesaro -- 41.5

    6. Roman Reigns -- 41

    7. John Cena -- 40

    8. Dolph Ziggler -- 38.5

    9. Bad News Barrett -- 37

    10. Adam Rose -- 29

    Thanks for reading, Cagesiders. We'll see you back here next week!